Filling the gap by offering quality service is Autosaver. The brand is growing internationally via franchising. Bobby Ong, MD, Auto Saver Pte Ltd shares brands’ expansion plans in Middle East.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Tell us about the inception and concept of ‘Autosaver’. What is the USP of the brand?
Bobby Ong (BO): Autosaver was started in 2002, as a simple car service and repair workshop. It has been providing quality service according to car owner’s manual using 100 per cent genuine parts for nearly eight years. We have offered transparent pricing structure and implemented systematic training methods to train up our employees. Our honest and transparent way of providing car maintenance service has shown results in raising the image of the industry progressively. Autosaver has built a loyal customer base in Singapore and in 2007 made the decision to offer our car maintenance business as a franchise package. Today, Autosaver has a growing group of franchisees in Asia.
NB: What are the motivating factors for the brand to opt for franchise model for expansion of the brand?
BO: In our goal of raising industry standards of after-sale workshops in the region, Autosaver has made significant progress over the years. Customers have traditionally thought that good service can only be found at authorised dealer workshops, but at a premium. Some independent workshops have been known to use inconsistent methods in car servicing, OEM parts and an opaque pricing system. Our efforts in projecting a brand image of being transparent, reliable and diligent has succeeded in countering adverse reputation of car servicing workshops. Autosaver has been an active franchisor of our car maintenance business to franchisees in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Tonga, with a growing number of potential franchisees, both locally and internationally. We are also investing in our R&D effort to develop new innovative products and service packages that can boost our car maintenance, auto parts and car care business across the network of Autosaver business, including our franchise network.
NB: What are the products and services offered by the company?
BO: The company offers auto maintenance packages for Japanese car brands, such as, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, according to their current mileage count. We also offer optional preventative maintenance packages for customers who are looking for an added service to their cars. Autosaver launched a car care division in 2006 and since then developed an in-house car care products, such as, Paint Saver, Battery Saver and Air-Con Saver to meet our customers’ needs. It also offers service packages, such as, installation of rear air-conditioning unit and automated door mirror unit. Our products and services can be summarised as follow: Auto parts, Auto Service and Car care
NB: How many owned stores and /or franchisees do you have at present?
BO: In Singapore, we have four franchisees and one owned workshop.
NB: Could you share the expansion plans for the brand in the Middle East?
BO: To become a leading regional player, our vision is to expand our unique brand’s one-stop offerings to other countries in Asia and beyond-creating regional networks. As the first and only Asian auto brand to be successfully franchised internationally, we foresee this vision to reach a global audience something that we can achieve through a combination of corporate owned and franchised operations. Beyond Asean, which is our first priority region, we have made some progress to other regions like Tonga, at the southern Pacific Ocean, and Bangladesh, at south central Asia. While we recognise the impetus to expand beyond Asean, we are aware of great potential in the Middle East market. We are finding suitable partners whom we can work long term with and to achieve a win-win situation for our international franchisees and in turn, we expect our franchisees to enable our brand to grow in their respective market. To achieve our plan, we created an ecosystem. Where most companies set up value chains, we create interdependent relationships with partners in the industry that is truly a win-win arrangement for every partners involved. This ecosystem is able to create value from Autosaver’s central function in ensuring everyone benefits from the interactions, creating a win-win situation for all.
NB: How would you tackle the issue of competition?
BO: In business, competition is inevitable. We must always stay fresh and innovative. Be proactive and be the industry leader. Eg: We develop the frame work, objectives and materials for various marketing and branding initiatives locally, and our oversea partners are only responsible to implement such initiatives on the ground in the respective markets. This gives us greater control and also achieves cost savings for the Autosaver network.
NB: Could you share the investment outlay required in terms of space, money and time from the franchisees’ end to partner with the brand in the Middle East?
BO: The franchise fee for five years Master Franchisee is USD 10,000 per country, five years Area Franchisee will be USD 20,000, (limit to 2 countries or 3 provinces) workshop floor area is from 3,000 sq. ft onwards.
NB: What kind of training and support will be provided to the franchisee?
BO: Autosaver franchise program provides training on proprietary products and control of sources, business knowledge, technical and mechanical skill, pricing formula, organisational structure (productivity), business net working and brand values.
NB: Tell us about your franchise arrangement (MF, Multi unit or single unit model) in the Middle East?
BO: We are looking at Master Franchise and Area Franchise model.
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